Fast Food Causes Obesity

Fast food causes obesity. Yes or no? It’s a simple question. The simple answer? Yes. Here is why fast foods cause overweight in teens and children and how to deal with the symptoms of obesity.

Childhood, Teen and Adult Obesity and Fast Food

There are many underlying reasons why fast food contributes to obesity, with most of them falling under three main categories:

  1. Eating quickly-fast food implies and usually guarantees we eat too much food too quickly
  2. Eating processed-fast food is generally processed food and therefore lacks many of the nutrients (i.e. trace minerals, vitamins, enzymes) that help keep us in a healthy weight range
  3. Eating fake-fast food often contains artificial ingredients (i.e. Aspartame™ or Splenda®) that can contribute to obesity.

But if you want one of the primary reasons fast food causes obesity, look no further than the research beautifully pointed out in Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: America produces too much corn and we’ve had to find something to do with it! I’ll leave Pollen to go into the details but in short, due to a variety of political and economic shifts over the past 40 years, food—starting with corn and soy—has become abundant, and relatively cheap. The surplus leads to:

  • Increased caloric intake-Mega sizes of mega cheap food mean we are eating too much. In simple and general terms, when you eat more food, especially fast food, than you need, you gain weight.
  • Increased processing or in Pollen’s words “a denser and more durable package of calories”-there are hundreds of things you can make from excess corn—alcohol, ethanol for cars, chicken nuggets, emulsifiers for the food processing industry—and the all time “biggie”, which deserves a whole page of its own, high fructose corn syrup.
  • Increased sugar intake-one of the primary foods made from the abundance of foods is sweeteners, predominantly fructose or high fructose corn syrup. These products, found in almost every type of foodstuff, satisfy our innate desire for sweetness but lead to an increased desire for what else? More sweetness.
  • Increased intake of foods that are not our best fuel mix-if you are a body type that has a higher need for animal protein and fat, filling your plate with corn, corn by-products and animals fed a high corn diet—a process which increases saturated fat content and negatively impacts the omega 3:omega 6 ratio of the meat—is going to increase your chances of becoming overweight.

Need more reasons to replace fast food with healthy, hearty “slow food”? Check out Childhood Obesity 101’s other Fast Food and Nutrition pages:

Effects of Fast Food
then Super Size Me and finally,
High Fructose Corn Syrup

You are also welcome to get additional support by visiting my Kids in Balance site or by purchasing, through the site, my book, Overweight Kids in a Toothpick World, that fully details how to successfully put the KIB program in place in your own home.


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